Unlike other Grand Tour contenders, Bradley Wiggins being the obvious example, Ivan Basso seems content to keep a low profile in this spring’s edition of Paris-Nice. We will no doubt be seeing more of Basso at the Tour (perhaps the Giro as well) where he will perhaps put in a more spirited performance than last year. One suspects, though, that the podium is out of his reach.
Still, whatever awaits for the rest of the season, Basso was taking no chances with his health and the weather. Viruses seem to be dropping riders without mercy and if the weather was a factor in the early stages of the race to the sun, Basso was having none of it – bundled up in tights, wind vest, arm warmers, winter gloves, and plenty of head-warming coverage.
In contrast, Tom Boonen seemed determined to remind all who cared that Belgium has tougher weather than France, Belgians are tougher than Italians, and that a little cold can only fortify one’s resolve and spirit. On at least one early stage, Boonen thus elected to go without even knee warmers (no doubt electing for the Belgian ’embrocative’ type). He did concede to arm warmers, but eschewed gloves all together. This lack of hand coverage seems to be an emerging trend in the pro peloton, for reasons unknown (no sponsor logo to flash during the victory salute?). Is it fashion, folly, or simply hardness?